Update here: Talks in casino strike fail to produce deal
News release from BCGEU (June 27):
Gateway’s Okanagan casino workers to take strike action
Workers in Kamloops, Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton will walk off the job on Friday
(Okanagan) Over 675 members of the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) working at Gateway Casinos in the Okanagan are walking off the job on Friday, June 29. Casino workers at Cascades Kamloops, Cascades Penticton, Playtime Kelowna and Lake City Vernon are set to strike after mediation broke down earlier this week.
“Our members are asking for living wages that would bring them in-line with the industry standard for casino workers in BC,” says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith.
Smith explains, “we entered mediation with the hope that Gateway would present a reasonable offer in a timely way but we were met with more stall tactics.”
“When it became clear that the company was not going to make an acceptable offer, the bargaining committee decided to exercise the strike mandate given to them by the workers.”
In a vote held from June 4 to 6, over 88% of Gateway staff in all four Okanagan casinos came out and voted 93.1% in favour of taking strike action.
Gateway’s Okanagan staff have been trying to negotiate a new collective agreement since the last one expired in September 2017.
Negotiations broke off in May after the employer refused to offer wages and benefits that are industry standard at comparable casinos. Both parties met for a few days of mediated talks over the past two weeks but could not reach an agreement on key monetary issues.
Smith says the employer’s offer is unacceptable. “The wages Gateway are offering won’t even keep ahead of the planned minimum wage increases.”
“These workers are the heart of their casinos. Gateway is a successful company in a highly profitable industry – they can afford to pay their workers what they are worth.”
BCGEU represents around 675 staff spread across Gateway’s four casinos in the Okanagan: Playtime Casino in Kelowna, Lake City Casino in Vernon, and Cascades Casinos in Kamloops and Penticton. BCGEU members work in table games, as slot attendants, cashiers, in the count room, kitchen, security, guest services and maintenance.